|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • Rep. Buckley, wildlife groups urge nonlethal cougar plan

    Joint legislative panel meets Friday in Newport to hear their views
  • State Rep. Peter Buckley and a cache of wildlife advocates on Friday will begin their bid to convince the Oregon Legislature to suspend the state's plan for managing cougars while searching for less lethal ways of reducing cougar-human conflicts.
    • email print
    • If you go
      What: Legislative hearing on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Cougar Manage-ment Plan
      When: Noon Friday
      Where: Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 S.E. Marine Science Drive, Newp...
      » Read more
      X
      If you go
      What: Legislative hearing on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Cougar Manage-ment Plan

      When: Noon Friday

      Where: Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2030 S.E. Marine Science Drive, Newport

      Phone: 867-0100
  • State Rep. Peter Buckley and a cache of wildlife advocates on Friday will begin their bid to convince the Oregon Legislature to suspend the state's plan for managing cougars while searching for less lethal ways of reducing cougar-human conflicts.
    A joint Oregon Legislature committee will hear Buckley and others during a meeting in Newport on the two-year-old Cougar Management Plan, reviled by some wildlife activists for its study to see whether killing cougars reduces complaints.
    Activists say this amounts to indiscriminate cougar-killing that flies against public will and a 2006 Washington State University study suggesting cougar populations are not expanding as Oregon's plan concludes.
    That study also concludes that backing off hunting — not increasing it — is the best remedy for curbing cougar-human conflicts.
    "I want to ask (the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) to stop until we are absolutely sure that what we're doing makes the most scientific sense and is not backfiring and causing more incidents between cougars and people in this state," Buckley, D-Ashland, said Monday.
    "We need to stop, take a look at what we're doing and perhaps choose a different way to minimize conflicts and protect livestock," he said.
    The hearing is of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources and House Agriculture and Natural Resources committees, and will be chaired by state Sen. Alan Bates, D-Ashland.
    The hearing makes good on a promise last session by former state Sen. Brad Avakian, a Beaverton Democrat who ceded his chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee to Bates.
    Bates also promised to hold a hearing during a May forum assailing the cougar plan in Ashland.
    Buckley said he plans to offer a bill calling for a new round of peer review on the plan when the Legislature convenes in 2009. Ron Anglin, the ODFW's Wildlife Division administrator, said his agency went through two rounds of scientific review on pieces of the plan and he has no plans to do a third.
    A computer model built within the plan estimates more than 5,000 cougars are in Oregon, and the plan outlines how the animals will be managed.
    A key element is the killing of cougars in specific "target areas" to determine whether reducing cougar numbers also will reduce human-safety complaints as well as livestock damage.
    A nearly 1,000-square-mile area of the Rogue Valley is one of the three target areas in the study, which began last February. In two years, 11 cougars have been killed for that part of the study, which calls for killing up to 24 cougars a year.
    Anglin and supporters of the cougar plan were invited to attend the hearing and make presentations.
    Also invited was Robert Wielgus, whose Large Carnivore Conservation Laboratory at WSU studied its cougar population. The study concludes that cougar populations in the Northwest actually are declining due in part to increased human intrusion on cougar habitat and a very young age structure of the cougar population caused by heavy hunting.
    That study recommends reduced hunting levels, particularly among adult females, throughout the Pacific Northwest.
    Anglin said ODFW biologists were aware of the Washington study data while crafting Oregon's plan and that there isn't universal agreement with its conclusions.
    "It's good research and like any research, you have to be careful of how it's used and how you extrapolate it," Anglin said.
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar